Allan Cunningham’s Plant Specimens 1816-1822

An Annotated Catalogue compiled
by Dr A.E. Orchard and T.A. Orchard

About the book

This book is an colossal achievement by Dr A.E. Orchard and T.A. Orchard. The book is A4 size, with 471 pages and is a comprehensive catalogue of Allan Cunningham’s Plant Specimens collected between 1816-1822, tabulating about 9000 surviving specimens matched against Mr Cunningham’s original lists. This covers his most prolific collecting periods, including the Oxley Expedition of 1817, King’s four coastal surveys, with side trips to Timor and Mauritius, King’s voyage to Tasmania in 1818, Cunningham’s exploration of the Sydney district, the Blue Mountains and the Five Islands (Illawarra) district, and his first inland expedition under his own auspices to the country north of Bathurst in 1822.

The specimens within the catalogue come from 28 herbaria, identified by their international accepted acronyms. The authors do not claim that the lists are complete, however the lists contain many (in some cases, most) of the critically important type specimens, of which Cunningham’s collection are a major source.

A review by Alex George

A review by Alex George ((Find out more about Alex George at Wikipedia)) was published in the Newsletter of the Australian Systematic Botany Society, ((Find out more about the Australian Systematic Botany Society at their website)). No.184 September 2020, page 53.

Here is a short extract from the review:

This is the sixth book by the Orchard team on Allan Cunningham, with more to come. It brings together their records of all the collections they have found from his most productive period—about 9,000, now housed in 28 herbaria. Along the way they took some 30,000 photographs of specimens. They describe how Cunningham worked in collecting and despatching his specimens. … This will be an instant standard reference for anyone studying Allan Cunningham’s collections. It should already be in the library of each Australian herbarium. The price is remarkably reasonable.

Alex George: Newsletter of the Australian Systematic Botany Society, No.184 September 2020, page 53

Read the full review:

About Allan Cunningham’s Specimens

Allan Cunningham was Australia’s most productive field botanist of the early 19th century. His collections, made on many pioneering expeditions, underpin the description of many hundreds of Australian plants. However these collections were dispersed to at least 30 institutions around the world, and in the process many lost all or part of their accompanying data. These specimens are still of vital importance to the study of the identity and naming of Australia’s plants.

About the authors

Dr Tony Orchard has had an extensive career as a Botanist at the highest levels: Beginning at the State Herbarium of South Australia (AD) (1972);  then Curator at the Cheeseman Herbarium in Auckland, NZ, (AK) (1972-1978); foundation Curator, Tasmanian Herbarium (HO) (1978-1992); Editor/Executive Editor, Flora of Australia (1992-1998), Director (and other positions) at ABRS Flora Section (1998-2003); botanist and Herbarium Registrar, Australian National Herbarium, Canberra, (2003-2005); Compiler, Australian Plant Census (2005-2006); Assistant Manager, Plant Biosecurity, Biosecurity Australia (2006-2009), Australian Botanical Liaison Officer, ABLO, Kew (2008-2009).  Source:

Theresa Orchard is a professional botanist.  After training at Aberystwyth University and University College, London, she moved to Australia in 1969, teaching Botany as a Tutor at the University of Adelaide (1970-1972).  From 1972-1978 she was a Tutor and Research Assistant in the Botany Department, University of Auckland, NZ, and from 2001 to 2008, was employed at the Australian National Herbarium , entering botanical collection records to the ANSHIR database.  In 2008-2009 she accompanied Tony to London where he was ABLO, and together they gathered extensive documentary and specimen data in London, Edinburgh, Paris, Florence and Geneva  for the research underpinning their Cunningham publications.  Follow up private trips to London in 2011 and 2012 provided further Cunningham data.

Books by Dr A.E. Orchard and T.A. Orchard